Bulgarian Finance Minister and EP Officials Discuss Bulgaria's Economic and Financial Standing

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Finance Minister Plamen Oresharski held a working meeting Wednesday with a visiting delegation of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs in the European Parliament (EP) led by its Chairperson Pervenche Beres, BTA reports.

Oresharski briefed the guest on the challenges facing Bulgaria as a EU member and said that this country is now focused on achieving long-term, stability of public finances - which is particularly important considering its ageing population, improving the business climate, strengthening the administrative capacity, encouraging research and development and improving the infrastructure.

He said that in the medium term Bulgaria will stick to its policy of macroeconomic stability and budget surplus as an instrument of offsetting possible internal and external imbalances. Another medium-range goal is relaxing the taxation regime in a bid to enhance economic activity.

Pervenche Beres inquired about the government's initiative for introducing a flat tax for personal incomes. Oresharski said that it is still only a political decision and is yet to be
debated in Parliament.

Asked about Bulgaria's readiness to join the Euro zone, Oresharski said that would happen when the country is ready to replace its current monetary regime. At this moment Bulgaria meets four of the five Maastricht criteria. The Finance Minister also added that inflation in 2006 was 6.5 per cent.

The two sides also talked about corruption. Oresharski said that Bulgaria has achieved considerable success in bringing to light much of the shadow business and has carried out a thorough reform in the public sector control system.

The Bulgarian Finance Minister shared his view that the financial crisis in the US is unlikely to affect the Bulgarian economy as long as it does not affect considerably the EU as a
whole - because nearly 60 per cent of Bulgaria's trade is with the EU countries.

Also on Wednesday, the delegation of the EP Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs met with Bulgarian central bank Governor Ivan Iskrov.

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